« AnteriorContinuar »
one like the sea," is their unwearied warfare against each and all. They have learned, by the logic of defeat, that the mother-heart must be enthroned in all places of power before its edicts will be heeded. For this reason they have been educated up to the level of the equal suffrage movement. For the first time in history the women of the South have clasped hands with their Northern sisters in faith and fealty wearing the white ribbon emblem of patriotism, purity and peace, and inscribing on their banners the motto of the organized crusade, “ For God and Home and Native Land.”
“No sectarianism in religion,” “no sectionalism in politics," “no sex in citizenship,”-these are the battle cries of this relentless but peaceful warfare. We believe that woman will bless and brighten every place she enters, and that she will enter every place on the round earth. We believe in prohibition by law, prohibition by politics, and prohibition by woman's ballot. After ten years' experience, the women of the crusade became convinced that until the people of this country divide at the ballot box, on the foregoing issue, America can never be nationally delivered from the dram-shop. They therefore pub. licly announced their devotion to the Prohibition party, and promised to lend it their influence, which, with the exception of a very small minority, they have since most sedulously done. Since then they have not ceased beseeching voters to cast their ballots first of all to help elect an issue rather than a man. For this they have been vilified as if it were a crime ; but they have gone on their way kindly as sunshine, steadfast as gravitation, and persistent as a hero's faith. While their enemy has brewed beer, they have brewed public opinion ; while he distilled whisky, they distilled sentiment ; while he rectified spirits, they rectified the spirit that is in man. They have had good words of cheer alike for North and South, for Catholic and Protestant, for home and foreign born, for white and black, but gave words of criticism for the liquor traffic and the parties that it dominates as its servants and allies,
While the specific aims of the white ribbon women everywhere are directed against the manufacture, sale, and use of alcoholic beverages, it is sufficiently apparent that the indirect line of their progress is, perhaps, equally rapid, and involves social, governmental and ecclesiastical equality between women and men. By this is meant such financial independence on the part of women as will enable them to hold men to the same high standards of personal purity in the habitudes of life as they
have required of women such a participation in the affairs of government as shall renovate politics and make home questions the paramount issue of the State, and such equality in all church relations as shall fulfill the gospel declaration, “ There is neither male nor female, but ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The cultivation of specialties, and the development of esprit de corps among women, all predict the day, when, through this might-conserving force of motherhood introduced into every department of human activity, the common weal shall be the individual care ; war shall rank among the lost arts; nationality shall mean what Edward Bellamy's wonderful book, entitled “ Looking Backward,” sets before us as the fulfillment of man's highest earthly dream ; and Brotherhood shall become the talismanic word and realized estate of all humanity.
In concluding this portion of my article I cannot better express my view of what we are, and what we may be, than by the following quotation from my address before the Woman's Congress at its meeting in Des Moines, Ia., 1885:
Humanly speaking, such success as we have attained has resulted from the following policy and methods :
1. The simplicity and unity of the organization. The local union is a miniature of the national, having similar officiary and plan of work. It is a military company carefully mustered, officered, and drilled. The county union is but an aggregation of the locals and the district of the counties, while each State is a regiment, and the national itself is womanhood's “ Grand Army of the Republic.” 2. Individual responsibility is everywhere urged.
“ Committees are obsolete to us, and each distinct line of work has one person, called a superintendent, who is responsible for its success in the local, and another in the State, and a third in the National union. She may secure such lieutenants as she likes, but the union looks to her for results, and holds her accountable for failures.
3. The quick and cordial recognition of talent is another secret of W. C. T. U. success. Women, young or old, who can speak, write, conduct meetings, organize, keep accounts, interest children, talk with the drinking man, get up entertainments, or carry flowers to the sick or imprisoned, are all pressed into the service. There has been also in our work an immense amount of digging in the earth to find one's own buried talent, to rub off the rust and to put it out at interest. Perhaps that is, after all, its most significant feature, considered as a movement,
4. Subordination of the financial phase has helped, not hindered us.
Lack of funds has not barred out even the poorest from our sisterhood. A penny per week is our basis of membership; of which a fraction goes to the State, and ten cents to the National W. C. T. U. Money has been, and I hope may be, a consideration altogether secondary. Of wealth we have had incomputable stores ; indeed, I question if America has a richer corporation to day than ours; wealth of faith, of enthusiasm, of experience, of brain, of speech, of common sensethis is a capital stock that can never depreciate, needs no insurance, requires no combination lock or bonded custodian, and puts us under no temptation to tack our course or trim our sails.
5. Nothing has helped us more than the entire freedom of our society from the influence or dictation of capitalists, politicians, or corporations of any sort whatever. This cannot be too strongly emphasized as one of the best elements of power. Indeed, it may be truly said that this vast and systematic work has been in no wise guided, molded, or controlled by men. “ It has not even occurred to them to offer advice until within a year, and to accept advise has never occurred to us, and I hope never will. While a great many noble men are 'honorary members,' and in one or two sporadic instances men have acted temporarily as presidents of local unions at the South, I am confident our grand constituency of temperance brothers rejoice almost as much as we do in the fact that we women have from the beginning gone our own gait and acted ccording to our own sweet will. They would bear witness, I am sure, to the fact that we have never done this flippantly, or in a spirit of bravado, but with great seriousness, asking the help of God. I can say personally what I believe our leaders would also state as their experience, that so strongly do good men seem to be impressed that the call to Christian women in the Crusade was of God, and not of man, that in the eleven years of my almost uninterrupted connection with the National W. C. T. U. I have hardly received a letter of advice or a verbal exhortation from minister or layman, and I would mildly but firmly say that I have not sought their counsel." The hierarchies of the land will be ransacked in vain for the letterheads of the W. C. T. U. We have sought, it is true, the help of almost every influential society in the nation, both religious and secular ; we have realized how greatly this help was needed by us, and grandly has it been accorded ; but what we asked for was an indorsement of plans already made and work
already done. Thus may we always be a society “of the women, by the women,” but for humanity.
6. The freedom from red-tape and the keeping out of ruts is another element of power. We practice a certain amount of parliamentary usage, and strongly urge the study of it as a part of the routine of local unions. We have good, strong “ constitutions,” and by-laws to match ; blanks for reports ; rolls for membership ; pledges in various styles of art; badges, ribbons, and banners, and hand-books of our work, are all to be had at“ national headquarters,” but we will not come under a yoke of bondage to the paraphernalia of the movement. We are always moving on. • Time cannot dull nor custom stale our infinite variety.” We are exceedingly apt to break out in a new phase. Here we lop off an old department, and there we add two new ones.
new departures frequent and oftentimes most unexpected. Indeed, we exhibit the characteristics of an army on the march rather than an army in camp or hospital.
The marked esprit de corps is to be included among the secrets of success. The W. C. T. U. has invented a phrase to express this, and it is “comradeship among women.” So generous and so cherished has this comradeship become that ours is often called a “mutual admiration society." We believe in each other, stand by each other, and have plenty of emula
ion without envy. Sometimes a State or an individual says to another, “The laurels of Miltiades wiil not suffer me to sleep ;' but there is no staying awake to belittle success ; we do not detract from any worker's rightful meed of praise. So much for the “ hidings of power ” in the W. C. T. U.
There are two indirect results of this organized work among women, concerning which I wish to speak.
First. It is a strong nationalizing influence. Its method and spirit differ very little, whether you study them on the border of Puget Sound or the Gulf of Mexico. In San Fran. cisco and Baltimore white ribbon women speak the same vernacular, tell of their gospel meetings and petitions, discuss the Union Signal editorials, and wonder “what will be the action of our next annual convention.”
Almost all other groups of women workers that dot the continent are circumscribed by denominational lines, and act largely under the advice of ecclesiastical leaders. The W. C. T. U. feels no such limitation. North and South are strictly separate in the women's missionary work of the churches, but Mississippi and Maine, Texas and Oregon, Massachusetts
and Georgia, sit side by side around the yearly camp-fires of the W. C. T. U. The Southern women have learned to love us of the North, and our hearts are true to them; while to us all who fight in peaceful ranks unbroken, “ For God and Home and Native Land," the Nation is a sacred name.
Second. Our W. C. T. U. is a school, not founded in that thought or for that purpose, but sure to fit us for the sacred duties of patriots in the realm that lies just beyond the horizon of the coming century.
Here we try our wings that yonder our flight may be strong and steady. Here we prove our capacity for great deeds ; there we shall perform them. Here we make our experience and pass our novitiate that yonder we may calmly take our places and prove to the world that what is needed most was “two heads in counsel ” as well as “two beside the hearth." When that day comes the nation shall no longer miss, as now, the influence of half its wisdom more than half its purity, and nearly all its gentleness, in courts of justice and halls of legislation. Then shall one code of morals—and that the highestgovern both men and women ; then shall the Sabbath be respected, the rights of the poor be recognized, the liquor traffic banished, and the home protected from all its foes.
Born of such a visitation of God's spirit as the world has not known since tongues of fire sat upon the wondering group at Pentecost, cradled in a faith high as the hope of a saint, and deep as the depths of a drunkard's despair, and baptized in the beauty of holiness, the Crusade determined the ultimate goal of its teachable child, the W.C. T. U., which has one steadfast aim, and that none other than the regnancy of Christ, not in form but in fact; not in substance but in essence ; not ecclesiastically, but truly in the hearts of men. To this end its methods are varied, changing, manifold ; but its unwavering faith these words express : “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts."
The Woman's National Christian Temperance Union has a publishing house in Chicago that in 1889 sent out 130,000,000 pages of temperance literature ; employs 146 men and women, mostly women ; pays a dividend of seven per cent. on money invested ; is the proprietor of its own presses and of its machinery, including an electrotyping department. It publishes the Union Signal, organ of the World's and National W. C. T. U., with a weekly circulation of 85,000 copies; also four other papers for the young pecple, children, and Germans; and has connected with it a large job office for general print